Morales got his start at age 15 working at a Hyatt hotel, though most of his career has been spent in Marriott kitchens. In 1998, Marriott recognized him with an Award of Culinary Excellence, which is presented to the top Marriott chefs worldwide. Since 1981, Morales has worked his way through Marriott hotels in Newport Beach and Marina del Rey, both in California, as well as hotels in Portland, Oregon. He signed on at the spectacular Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, a Marriott hotel, in 1992.
There, Morales has earned a steady stream of accolades and praise. David Rottenberg, dining editor of San Diego Magazine, described him as “quite a culinary craftsman” and was especially taken with his spa menu. Morales was voted Chef of the Year by the Desert Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, and was nominated for the same title by the California Restaurant Writers Association.
Morales is a CIA graduate, who furthered his culinary education under the tutelage of a number of renowned chefs, including Roger Vergé and Georges Blanc in France, and Bradley Ogden and Heidi Ensalada in California. Morales has traveled to Barcelona to research Spanish cuisine, which he serves at Pablo’s Restaurant and Tapas Bar in Rancho Las Palmas. Desert Dining Guide called the place “festive, colorful and fun.” He was also invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City in 2003.
Morales moved to Virginia in 2009, where he took over the position of Executive Chef at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. Since his arrival he has elevated the culinary department to the top 10% for Quality of Food in Events for all Marriott Hotels.
Most recently, Morales has been planning 15th and Eads, including developing a menu that incorporates regionally-sourced and locally crafted ingredients that change with the seasons.